More famous as a Sports Illustrated swimwear model, or as Mrs Andy Roddick, than as an actress, Brooklyn Decker was thrust into the Hollywood limelight earlier this year in Just Go With It where she had to match quips with Adam Sandler and out-sexy Jennifer Aniston.
Decker is candidly honest in describing how she felt. “I was terrified, completely terrified, so nervous… Jen [Jennifer Aniston] and Adam [Sandler] are my idols and I grew up watching both of them, so suddenly to be working alongside them was a very intimidating task. But I think it was the best way to learn, for this to be my first film with the two of them.”
It is clear the 24 year old, Ohio-born daughter of a pacemaker seller is still more of a star-gazer than star in the Hollywood spectrum.
“Oh I was so star-struck. I wish I wasn’t but I was. The first day I met Jen I think I maybe said two words to her because every time I tried to say something I would nervously ramble on” she admits.
While for many Hollywood is a calling, for Decker growing up it wasn’t even a fantasy.
“To be honest I grew up in such small towns [in Ohio and North Carolina] that being an actor wasn’t even a remote possibility. No one from North Carolina was in movies, you know? I actually wanted to be a veterinarian, I wanted to take care of animals” she recalls.
It was her rapid rise through the modeling world, after being discovered in a Charlotte mall, that inadvertently inspired her acting ambitions.
“I got really lucky with the modeling and I started studying acting as a way to get some education because I wasn’t going to college or university. That’s when I fell in love with it. Now that I’m acting I’m working so hard to get better because I know I have a lot of room for improvement.”
“I’m not any good yet, but I’m trying to learn. I’m studying and trying to get better, and I feel I’m at a very early stage in my career. I hope to grow with each role.
Decker’s self-deprecation seems genuine, if tied to a healthy dose of ambition. She has clear career goals and her sights are set on another comedy big shot. “I started with comedy and the second movie I’ve done [Battleship] is an action war film. I want to do something smaller next, something indie.”
“I like anything Judd Apatow does. I don’t know if you’d call those romantic comedies, they’re more straight comedies, but there’s a lot of heart to them. He finds a way to make the characters very funny and sometimes crass but still with a lot of heart. I’d love to work with Judd, actually. I’ve met him and again I could barely get a word out because he’s so smart.”
Decker was widely linked with the “Megan Fox replacement” part in Michael Bay’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon, a role that ultimately went to fellow model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Yet those sort of seen-but-not-heard roles don’t really appeal.
“There are more female-driven movies coming out, but it is more difficult for women. I’ve gotten a few offers where you play the wife of a really great character or the girlfriend of a great character, and while it’s nice to be part of a great movie you want to play someone of substance even if it’s a small role. In a lot of movies women play accessories and that doesn’t interest me so much” she said.
Yet she is under no delusions about her role in Just Go With It, including multiple bikini-clad sequences in the Hawaii-based second half of the film. “Seeing my half-naked body up on that giant screen… I knew I was going to have to see myself in slow-mo over and over again.”
Though she’s graced magazine covers and is the subject of admiring gazes from many, watching herself on the big screen is no source of enjoyment. “I can’t. It’s awful. It’s a horrible experience. Everything annoys you from your mannerisms to your voice. With dailies I’m like, ‘I’m not going to continue watching this because I know I’m going to be so upset’.”
Staring at Jennifer Aniston on set was a different matter entirely however, with Decker finding herself gazing too avidly. “She’s tiny! She’s so little, but then I’m like 5ft 9ins so I’m a giant compared to most people, but she’s so little and petite and the cutest thing. She has these giant eyes. They’re like big pools of blue, so beautiful, and I caught myself drooling a few times staring at her.”
The stares are what Decker believes inspired the reports of rivalry between the two on set, “I think it’s been written about that there was, but there really wasn’t. I was staring at her with envy because she looks so darn good and her abs are ripped and she just looks beautiful.”
While she might feel she hasn’t mastered acting or comedy yet, the swimsuit model who catches herself gawking at women has at least got a firm grasp of irony.